shopping

Buyee.jp, a new Japanese buying and bidding service, plus an update on ordering products from Japan

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About Buyee, a new auction-bidding and buying service in Japan, plus an update on my ordering-stuff-from-Japan habits. continue reading...

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Organic and natural farming article in The Japan Times - how/where to shop (including Michi no Eki)

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This month’s Japan Times article by me is about organic and natural farmers and retailers in the Kanto region of Japan (that’s the area that includes Tokyo), including the thorny subject of how they are dealing with radioactive substance contamination on their crops. Because of space constraints I had to leave a lot out of course (that’s the nature of newspaper articles) so here are some supplemental things. continue reading...

Keeping Japan Going, Part 2: Konbini love, plus there are angels

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I’ve talked about the awesomeness of konbini, or Japanese convenience stores, before. Actually, almost everyone who has been to Japan raves about the awesomeness of konbini. continue reading...

Postcards from Kyoto - Surfaces, Keibunsha and conclusion

Tsubaki (camellia) 'fountain' at Honen-in, Kyoto

The final post in my Postcards from Kyoto series, with some reflections on what Kyoto stands for, plus more shopping and food. continue reading...

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Postcards from Kyoto - Misuyabari and Hakotou, for lovers of sewing and handcrafts

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This edition of the Postcards from Kyoto has no food in it…but if you’re a fan of handcrafts and sewing and the like, read on… continue reading...

Postcards from Kyoto - Nishiki Market, Masugata Arcade and the traditional sho-tengai

This is the third in my Postcards from Kyoto series.

The traditional center of life in a Japanese town is the sho-tengai (商店街), a street or collection of streets where all the local shops congregate. Often it is wholly or partially covered and made into a indoor shopping mall or arcade.

The most famous sho-tengai in Kyoto, and arguably in Japan, is Nishiki Ichiba (or Nishiki Shijo - the word for market, 市場, can be read either way) or Nishiki Market (錦市場), which proudly calls itself Kyoto’s Kitchen. Although it’s called a market, it is a sho-tengai really rather than a market in the European sense; it’s a narrow, covered street lined with small stores.

Nishiki Market, Kyoto continue reading...

Postcards from Kyoto - Tofu from bean to plate: Kamo Tofu Kinki and Sosoan Restaurant

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When you go to Kyoto, you must have at least one tofu meal. It’s just the way it is. Fresh tofu in Japan is far better than it is anywhere else, and the tofu in Kyoto is generally held to be the best in the country. This is generally attributed to the skill, refined court and/or temple-influenced culture and the quality of the local water. Whatever the reason, to most Japanese people Kyoto means tofu, and vice versa. A visit to a fine Kyoto tofu restaurant is very likely to convert even the most die-hard carnivore into a tofu fan.

During my week in Kyoto, I was able to pursue one family business’s vision of what tofu should be from beginning to end. Kamo Tofu Kinki, a company that’s been in business since 1834, makes tofu and related products in two tiny workshops located in the Gion Kiya-cho area of Kyoto. Later on, I visited Sosoan, the tofu restaurant owned and operated by Kinki for a multi-course tofu feast. continue reading...

Postcards from Kyoto - Sweet destinations: Kagizen Yoshifusa and Inoda Coffee

Kuzukiri at Kagizen

Kyoto, the former imperial capital, is the top tourist destination in Japan for many good reasons. A lot has been written about this city already, and it’s impossible to describe in a few sentences - so I’m not going to try to. Instead, I’ll share some of my favorite destinations in a series of pictures and short descriptions — as postcards if you will. Here’s my first postcard from Kyoto.

Kyoto is a city that hits the sweet spot for me in more ways than one. It is dripping with history, has fantastic shops, great art and craft galleries, and so many places to have a wonderful meal. It also has a lot of literal sweet spots. Perhaps because of its history as the seat of the imperial court, where ladies influenced much of the culture, there are many amami dokoro, or places to enjoy a bite of something sweet, both traditional and modern. continue reading...

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A tour through a fabulous Japanese department store food hall - Yokohama Takashimaya

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One must-do in Japan for anyone interested even remotely interested in food is a visit to a depachika(see footnotes), or department store basement food hall. One of the more impressive food halls that I have seen is in the Yokohama branch of the Takashimaya department store. I recently had a chance to tour of the Yokohama Takashimaya food halls.

Warning: Lots of mouth-watering pictures to follow! continue reading...

Cool stuff from Japan: Soy milk that's an instant tofu 'kit'

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During my stay in Japan, I thought I’d feature some cool stuff (or things that you all may find cool) that I’ve seen. Here is a bottle of soy milk or tounyuu (豆乳) that I got at a shop in the local Tokyuu line train station (or in other words, it’s not like a special brand or anything). continue reading...

Shopper's Guide to Pesticides iPhone App

3 years ago, I mentioned a handy list of produce ranked by how much pesticide is used to grow them. The higher (=more pesticides) the ranking, the better it would be to stick to organically grown.

I recently got a new iPhone (yes…I’m the very opposite of an Early Adopter of tech gadgets) and discovered that the same list is available as a free iPhone app called DirtyProduce. Here’s a screenshot of the opening page:

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It doesn’t do much beyond list the Dirty Dozen (the most heavily pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables), the Clean 15 (the last pesticide-used) and the full list of 47 produce items, but it’s handy to have around with you. Who knew for instance that peaches were the most pesticide-laden fruit or vegetable? I tend not to peel my peaches, and I ate, oh I don’t know, a few tons of them over the summer. I may start peeling them next season, or look for non-treated ones.

Anyway, if you do have an iPhone, take a look. And if you don’t, there is still the PDF list to print out and carry in your wallet.

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Borough Market, London: A Very Literary Food Paradise

Borough Market, London

When I found out that I’d be in London this week for a couple of days, my thoughts immediately turned to what food-related things I could fit into my schedule. Tea and scones, check. Curry, check. A visit to Japan Centre, check. But at the top of my list was a proper roam around Borough Market.

Long time readers of Just Hungry may know that I absolutely love markets, and go to them whenever and wherever I can. One big reason I’ve decided to move to the south of France is because of the wonderful markets here. So, how does London’s oldest market compare to some of my favorites? While Borough Market is not the biggest market, nor does it have the widest selection, or even the best selection, of foodstuffs, it’s a very special place. In my opinion, it’s simply the most intellectually pleasing market there is. continue reading...

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Japanese food shopping in Lyon, plus different Asian stores as sources for Japanese food

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This is a continuation of my series on Japanese food shopping, and frugal eating, in Europe. Previously I visited Paris and Düsseldorf’s Japantown.

Lyon, the third largest city in France and arguably the second most important one after Paris, does not have a large Japanese expat or immigrant population. However, there are some Japanese corporations that have factories or offices in the area, not to mention a large university population. So in terms of the availability of Japanese groceries in France, it ranks second to Paris, although it trails behind by a large margin.

It also gives me a chance to talk a bit about where exactly you can find Japanese ingredients, regardless of the town you’re in. continue reading...

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A Frugal Eats blitz through Düsseldorf's Japantown

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I’ve long been intrigued by the famed Japantown or Japan Quarter area of Düsseldorf, Germany, but haven’t had a chance to go there. It’s about a 5 hour drive from Zürich, and there was no work-related excuse to go there - until last week that is. So, following up on my mostly Japanese frugal eats blitz through Paris, here is my 2-day all-Japanese blitz through Düsseldorf. continue reading...

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Workshop Issé: Purveyor of the finest Japanese food and sake in the heart of Paris

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From the outside, Workshop Issé looks like just another unassuming little Japanese grocery and gift store. There are quite a few stores of this nature scattered about Europe these days. But inside this little boutique in the heart of the Japanese quarter in Paris, you can experience something quite special: A crash course on top quality artisanal Japanese food and drink. continue reading...

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A Frugal Eats (mostly Japanese) blitz through Paris

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Pursuing cheap Japanese (and other) eats in Paris. continue reading...

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Zurich shopping news: Best of British store opening

(This item is only of interest if you live in Switzerland, specifically in the Zürich area. Everyone else, just move along.) continue reading...

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Silly product warning labels

I was just opening a new pack of umeboshi (pickled plums) today, when I noticed this warning on the lid in Japanese:

WARNING: Umeboshi have seeds, and sometimes the seeds can be pointed.
So please be careful.

Here’s the label, with two pointy seeds.

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(Edit: I could understand the umeboshi warning if it was in English (or language of the country in which the pack was being sold), since people may be unfamiliar with umeboshi. But this was a pack imported from Japan, with Japanese writing, so they are warning Japanese people, who are, or should be, familiar with umeboshi and their pointy seeds. Ume are related to apricots, so maybe apricots should have pointy-seed labels too.)

WTF? So…has it come to this now? We have to have warning labels on natural foods?

I can understand warning labels on manufactured products, say a pesto sauce, to warn about the existence of finely ground nuts. A small percentage of the population is very allergic to nuts.

But, surely the nut-allergic shopper knows to stay away from whole peanuts for example. Or will we have to have labels on those too? “Warning: This bag contains peanuts.” ….

What about warning labels on bags of beans? “Warning: This bag contains beans, which may cause flatulence and socially awkward situations.” Meat? “Warning: This pack contains meat, which comes from an animal. Vegetarians are known to have an aversion to meat.” A bunch of bananas? “Warning: Bananas have slippery skins. If dropped on the ground, they may cause an accident, or a horde of circus clowns to show up.”

Is this labelling gone too far? (Japan is not as litigious as the U.S. for example, but it’s slowly getting there.) Are there any other nanny-state labels you’ve seen?

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Japanese grocery stores in Germany

General notes on Germany: The biggest Japanese expat community is in the Düsseldorf area. continue reading...

Japanese grocery stores in France

Japanese grocery stores and Asian stores that carry Japanese products in France. continue reading...

Japanese grocery stores in the UK and Ireland

Listings for the UK and Ireland. continue reading...

Japanese grocery stores in the New York - New Jersey - Connecticut area

This page lists stores in New York, North New Jersey and Connecticut - the NYC Tristate area, plus upstate New York. South NJ area stores are listed on the main page.

(some formatting problems remain - please ignore)

Family Market 29-15 Broadway, Astoria Tel: 718-956-7925 10:00am〜1:00am (7 Days)

生鮮食品、一般食料品、雑貨、レンタルビデオ

JAS Mart 35 St. Marks Pl. (bet. 2nd & 3rd Aves.) Tel: 212-420-6370 11:00am〜11:00pm (Sun - Thu) continue reading...

Japanese grocery stores in California

General notes on California: Due to the large Asian-American population and sizeable expat communities, Japanese grocery stores are quite plentiful, especially in the Los Angeles area, but throughout the state generally, and there are even more Asian groceries.

I’ve tried to organize the listings by general area, but if I put a town in the totally wrong location let me know! continue reading...

Mailorder merchants that ship Japanese goods worldwide

Merchants that ship worldwide, plus shipping services. continue reading...

Food related shopping places in Japan you should visit

Please limit your suggestions to stores and places that are food-related: edibles, supplies, equipment, etc. continue reading...

Japanese grocery stores in other places

Middle East, Africa, and other places.

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Japanese grocery stores in Asia (other than Japan)

I need to update this section soon! In the meantime, take a look through the addresses listed in the comments.

Japanese grocery stores in Australia, New Zealand, Pacific

(placeholder for the moment) Japanese grocery stores (or stores that stock Japanese food products) in Australia and New Zealand. If your favorite stores aren’t listed, let us know the details in the comments! continue reading...

Japanese grocery stores in Europe

So far we have listings for Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. continue reading...

Japanese grocery stores in Central/South America/Caribbean

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Japanese grocery stores in Canada

Listings in the great nation of Canada. continue reading...

Japanese grocery stores in the United States and territories

Japanese grocery stores and stores selling food-related items in the United States. Note that California and the New York-New Jersey - Connecticut areas have their own pages. continue reading...

Help me to assemble a comprehensive Japanese grocery store list!

I should have done this a long time ago, but hey, better late than ever. I’m going to try to assemble a list of Japanese grocery stores worldwide, that people can refer to. Obviously I cannot do this without your help! I can list info for places I’ve lived, and there have been some great comment posts in the past here that have included such info, but I’ll try to put it all in one place.

So, please head on over to to this constantly updated page and add any information you have about in the comments!

I’ve added the categories Food related shopping places you shouldn’t miss in Japan and Places that ship Japanese food-related things worldwide.

[Update:] Of course this turned out to be a way bigger job than I thought :) But I’ll try to add as much as possible over the weekend. I’ve found that there are quite a lot of Japanese pages that list stores and so on, for expats obviously. I’m collecting those and adding them, together with your suggestions in the comments. continue reading...

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Japanese grocery store list

This is an attempt to put together a set of lists of Japanese grocery stores around the world. Ambitious but with the help of Just Hungry readers, we hope to put together a definitive list. This is definitely a work in progress - please bookmark it and check back often. Note that Korean and Chinese groceries are also listed sometimes, since they often carry a lot of Japanese ingredients. continue reading...

Swiss shopping news: Get used to happy foie gras

nomorefoisgras.jpgWe received a PR release the other day from LeShop, Migros’ home food delivery web site, that they are no longer going to be selling traditionally raised (with the gavage method of force-feeding) foie gras to German speaking Switzerland. This didn’t come about because of government legislation, but apparently was a decision made by Migros, following the results of customer surveys which were overwhelmingly against gavage. continue reading...

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Nourishing food writing and music

Some time ago, I realized that I was often using food to deal with anxiety and stress. I can’t say I’ve gotten out of that habit totally, but I know the symptoms now and can deal with them a bit better. One way is to read about food instead. I’m sure I’m not the only one who takes cookbooks to read in bed. continue reading...

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Plastic fantastic New Years feasts

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A look at preorder New Year’s feasts in Japan. continue reading...

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Answering some rice cooker questions

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A few readers have emailed me recently about rice cookers by coincidence. So I thought I would put my answers here for everyone’s benefit. continue reading...

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Swiss food shopping news: The Cheese Club has British cheese

wensleydale-sm.jpegHere’s another bit of food related shopping news for my fellow Swiss residents, expat or not. I recently got an email about a new site called The Cheese Club. They are still in pre-launch mode - the official launch is scheduled for February. One thing that makes they quite interesting is that they are run by an English and Swiss couple and will be selling British cheeses, as well as Swiss and Spanish cheeses. As far as I know, British cheeses aren’t that widely available here in Switzerland (Jelmoli has a limited selection, at least in Zürich) so this could be good news for a lot of people. (There really is no substitute for a good Stilton, for example.)

Although they haven’t officially opened yet, they are already selling a cheese tasting pack, which includes wedges of blue Stilton and Wensleydale, for 69 CHF. They guarantee delivery by December 21st. Could be a great gift for your favorite homesick Brit!

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A very special current season olive oil from Siracusa, Sicily via Zurich

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A very special limited edition olive oil which comes from Siracusa, Sicily via Zürich, Switzerland. continue reading...

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Hundreds of squash and pumpkins: A great seed source in Switzerland

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A Swiss company that sells hundreds of squash and pumpkin seed varieties. continue reading...

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Reader question: Canadian mailorder sources for Japanese food?

I’m still not officially back :) but a reader from Canada had a question in the comments here, which I cannot answer. So, I ask any Canadian residents out there. Do you know of any Canadian sources (or places that will ship food items to Canada) for Japanese food, specifically umeboshi?

I am going to try to compile a worldwide Japanese shopping source list soon, since this type of question does come up all the time.

(For umeboshi specifically, if you can’t find it locally at an Asian or Japanese grocery, I’d also try health stores since umeboshi is a highly revered food amongst the macrobiotic set.)

OK, let me shuffle back to the inert/letting the antibiotics do their job state now….

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Comparison shopping: Ordering Japanese books and media online

This not quite food related, but I thought it might be of interest if you’re reading this site and like to order Japanese books, DVDs and other media.

I go through books like I can go through a bag of potato chips. I order quite a lot of books almost every month from Japan. I don’t have a local Japanese bookshop available, so I get everything from online stores.

I’ve ordered books in the past mainly from three sources: Amazon Japan, Yes Asia and JList. (Disclaimer: Just Hungry is an affiliate of all three companies, and product links do contain affiliate code that helps to pay costs for running the site.) Each has its advantages and disadvantages. continue reading...

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Swiss food shopping news: OEM Dolfin chocolate spotted at Coop

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Coop seems to have OEM’ed the famous Dolfin spicy Masala chocolate bar! All evidence points to this…. continue reading...

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Daiso is coming to Europe!

Great news for fans of things Japanese who live in Europe, the UK in particular: Daiso, the 100 yen store chain, is opening a branch in London on November 17th. They are teaming up with Japan Centre, one of my favorite sources for Japanese food and other things. (Disclaimer: Japan Centre advertises on this site, but I’m also a happy customer.) It will be at 213 Piccadilly.

If you’re not familiar with the awesomeness of 100 yen shops, you owe yourself a visit if you go to London. I am hoping that they will carry plenty of cute goods for the fans of cute. I think I need to go to London soon! I’m rather curious as to how they’ll price things at the London store…will everything be a pound? We’ll see.

Daiso also has several stores in North America.
An excerpt from the press release follows after the jump. continue reading...

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Briefly: For Japanese food lovers in Switzerland

The French-language blog sooshi has pictures of Uchitomi, a Japanese grocery with stores in Genève and Lausanne. The selection looks very nice!

I have also spotted real yuzu recently at the Bürkliplatz market in Zürich. In the summer I have seen live shiso plants there, both red and green too, Japanese-style sweet potatoes at Barkat, and satoimo (taro roots) at the Indian grocery store next the Hooter’s at Helvetiaplatz. It’s really great to see more ‘exotic’ Japanese and Asian produce more easily available here. When I first came to visit Switzerland back in the mid-’90s, you had to buy fresh ginger in the exotic food department at Globus! How times have changed. .

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Hmm, low-fat artisanal local cheese

I finally succumbed to the inevitable and went to the dentist yesterday, to have a back molar that has been twinging with pain for months looked at. And, as to be expected when you hold off that dreaded dentist visit for too long, my options weren’t good: root canal surgery, or get the tooth pulled. I pondered my choices for, oh, about 5 seconds before settling on the tooth extraction option. (I’ve had root canal surgery once before…never, ever again will I go through that agony).

While it was my lesser-pain option, and Herr Dentist was as efficient as can be, I was still in pain as I got back to Zürich. (Herr Dentist is in Winterthur.) But my spirits lifted when I saw that the Wednesday Speciality Market (Spezialitätenmarkt im Hauptbahnhof) was back after a monthlong summer vacation. I headed straight for my favorite cheese vendor, which sells cheeses made by farmers/cheesemakers in the Züri Oberland region - in other words, very local, all artisanally made and so on. continue reading...

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Swiss supermarket news: Carrefour sells up to Coop

This news item is probably of no interest to anyone who doesn’t live in Switzerland, but French supermarket giant Carrefour has apparently given up on the Swiss market and sold their stores to Coop (news in German).

Now I am not really surprised. I’ve only been to the Carrefour store near here a few times, but each time I’ve wondered why it was so popular. Okay, they did often have some loss-leader type sales on staple items, a wider variety of cuts of packaged meat, and so on. continue reading...

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Reducing shopping bag usage - the Swiss way

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Reading this post on Serious Eats about the different ways in which municipalities in the U.S. are trying to reduce shopping bag usage, I couldn’t help comparing it to the way Switzerland copes with the issue. Here there is no banning of plastic bags or anything aggressive like that. Instead, shoppers are given two choices of disposable containers for their groceries at the checkout counter: free but really flimsy and small plastic bags, which are barely big enough to hold a packet of sandwiches and a drink; or a sturdy paper bag - that costs 30 Rappen each, which is about 25 US cents. I think this is a really smart solution, because having to pay even that small amount for a shopping bag really discourages people from using them. (The supermarket shopping bags are so attractive it seems to Japanese people that they are even sold for more than 10 times what they cost as accessories!)

In Zürich, everyone carries cloth shopping bags, backpacks, and so on to do their shopping as a matter of course, and people with just a little to buy will stuff their purchases wherever they can - I’ve seen elegant women with vegetables peeking out of their expensive handbags, and businessmen putting groceries into their briefcases. That may be the key really: who says that we need to put groceries, most of which are packed in various forms of plastic anyway, into separate, special bags? (Granted, I would have never thought of this when I lived in the U.S.)

They do things similarly in France too, though there they have plastic disposable bags instead of paper ones. French supermarkets also carry canvas bags, which aren’t that widely seen in Switzerland, as well as sturdy plastic bags of Ikea bag quality. continue reading...

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Svenska LantChips (Ikea chips) - the universal Good Chip

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Following up to the potato chip post: the availability of any kind of packaged food around the world is iffy, with the exception of a handful of really global brands, and even they (e.g. Coke) change their formulas from place to place sometimes. But as Roanne’s comment reminded me, there is one kind of good potato chip that is available all around the world - Svenska Lantchips, aka Ikea chips. If you have an Ikea near you, next time you’re there pick up a bag of these - a trifle on the greasy side, but these are tasty, sturdy chips, the type I really like. When I was at Ikea Spreitenbach a few days ago they had plain salted and unsalted; previously I’ve seen sour cream flavored ones too. Don’t you just love Ikea?

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